A complete guide to Santorini

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Santorini, the most romantic Instagram picture-worthy Greece island there is. Besides the hype around the place you will discover that it’s much more than a new Instagram feed. I visited the place last year, just as a random pick between the Greece islands. I wanted to visit Greece since it’s such a beautiful but above all cheap summer destination to go to. I looked for a small island, with both culture and beautiful nature and I landed on Santorini.

Background information

If you don’t have time to look it up on Wikipedia here is some basic information about Santorini: Santorini is one of Greece’s many islands, and it belongs to the Cyclades island group. The Island exists out of three main parts: the main island with its capital Fira, a volcano and a smaller island called Therasia. The island is all that’s left of a big volcanic eruption a looong long time ago. The island is quite small with its 15.000 habitants and with a surface about 105km² big. Without further ado let’s get into the places you should definitely look out for when visiting this picturesque place.

Fira

The first place I visited when I came on the island was the capital: Fira. Besides of course the touristy shops and things that every capital has, Fira’s main attraction is the old port. You can walk down to the old port on the famous donkey trails. You can do this by foot manoeuvering your way through the donkeys, or for a few euro’s you can take the trip down on the back of a donkey. If you are down at the old port and you don’t want to walk or donkey up again? No problem, for a couple of euro’s you can take the cable cart going up again, while enjoying the beautiful view.

Beaches

While beaches may sound like a relaxing and lazy part of this trip, they don’t have to be. The two most famous beaches of Santorini are Red Beach and Black Beach, and like the names already say these beaches are black and red. While you can of course relax and swim at these beaches they are also perfect for a beautiful beach stroll, or snorkeling.

Historical sites

Of course being Greece the island also comes with some historical sites, dating way back to the old times. Akrotiri is the main historical place, easy to combine with visiting Red Beach. The entry can be quite pricey since it’s about €15,- for not much to see , however there are special prices for students and you can also buy a pass that will allow you visiting all the historic sites of the island.  For all of you hikers out there, there is also an archeological site at the top of a mountain on a hiking trail between Perissa beach and Kamari beach (both black beaches). This site was in my opinion the  most worth visiting, since I can’t resist a good hike, the price to enter was way below the price of Akrotiri and this side was also in the open air unlike the Akrotiri site.

Oia

The other “big” city on the island is Oia, also know for an old port with donkeys. Oia can also be combined with another popular hike of the island. There is a 10 kilometre trail between the capital of Santorini and Oia, a breathtaking trail along the coast line, with beautiful scenic views and little chapels on the way. The beginning of the trail is quite hard to find, but there are always people who are willing to help you, and once you’ve found it the path becomes quite clear. There are also a few fruit stands and places to drink on the way. Once you’ve reached the city of Oia I would higly recommend to go down to the port and enjoy the sunset, something Oia is famous for. Down there you have plenty of restaurants but you can also bring your own food and have a little picnic in the rocks. Also in the city itself you have restaurants that can give you a beautiful view over the sea and the sunset, and they may seem like more expensive places but the price difference between a restaurant with view and a normal one is minimal.

Volcano

Another thing that I found quite exciting was to visit the volcano of Santorini, Which you can reach by boat. Me and my friend booked a trip on a sail boat which was about €30,- I would say, at Caldera’s boats.  We had to book it a day in advance. On the day itself we got picked up by a bus, near to our hotel, that brought us to the harbour. On the harbour we entered the sail boat. Our first stop were the hot springs, the hot spring are naturally heated by the volcano, part of the water with a lot of mud.  They gave us some time to swim around and to cover ourselves in mud and after that we were off to the volcano. On the volcano we had time to explore and to walk around, and they gave us a tour with background information of the volcano. After that we went to the island of Thirassia for some lunch, a nice small island and great to visit for lunch only. At the end of the trip they stopped at Oia for us to get off the boat and to enjoy the city.

Cinema

Something fun to do in the evening is going to the cinema, not just your basic old cinema, but Santorini has an open air cinema in the city of Kamari. The cinema both displays new and older movies depending on the day. Sit back relax in a beach chair and order your classic popcorn with a tropical cocktail.

Public transportation

All over the city are bus stops, provided with timetables. Also in most of the hotels they will provide you with the timetable of the bus and otherwise you can always find it on the internet. Although its always good to have a timetable don’t expect the bus to always be on time, in Greece coming late is quite a habit. The bus will cost about two euros depending on the destination. Another thing you can do to get around is renting either a scooter or a quad, renting places are to be found all over the city.

These are all the things I did during my stay in Santorini, things that I would surely recommend. Everything took about 5 days, which I would say is the perfect time for staying on Santorini since it’s quite small. Hope you enjoyed and that you will consider Santorini as your next destination! And as always

-Until next time-

Brit

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Red Beach
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Donkeysss!
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Thirassia
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Fira – Oia hiking trail
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Wroclaw, Poland an unknown treasure

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Last summer I visited Wroclaw with a friend, truly a city chosen at random. I received the trip as a graduation present, for three short days we were off to the city in southwestern  Poland. By losing two days to travelling we had time  to spent one day in the city. And this is how we spend it, with my recommendations and reasons why you should consider Poland worth a visit.

Because we went in the beginning of July the temperature was more than great in Wroclaw, we arrived at the airport and we found are way easily with the help of Google Maps and convenient public transport throughout the city. One of the best reasons to visit Poland is because it’s cheaper than cheap, while I don’t know what was paid for the hotel since it was a gift, things such as a bus ticket will only cost you 2 zlotys which is about 45 eurocents (!) or just casual dinner in the center of the city, pizza with a coke perhaps? About 11 zlotys which is only €2,60. While cheapness is not the only reason why Poland is worth it, it’s also its eastern-European culture and architecture. What we of course found in the city of Wroclaw. If you only have a day to spend in the city I would recommend just taking a tour by foot through it, like we did. We first of walked to the love lock bridge ( like every city has of course) on our way stopping at a few statues and little churches ( that you have to visit for sure). After some picture taking, we made our way to the famous Rynek Market Square where you will find fun colorful buildings with beautiful architecture, the town hall and an abundance of restaurants. After we walked around the square for a bit, we went to a church from where you could look out over the city. In the evening we ate dinner, what I found surprising about Wroclaw is that they had the biggest variety of food places, we ended up in a vegan restaurant where I ate a classic Polish delicacy, perogies which are like dumplings (I would highly recommend you try them out). What was another surprising aspect of the city was the great deal of art they had  throughout the city, you can find wall paintings and statues of all kinds (which was great since I’m a true art junkie). Also there are little dwarfs statues spread throughout the city as part of an art project, there were 50 of them to be exact and can work as a fun activity by trying to spot them. After a day of doing all that we sadly had to go home, when you’re staying longer there are still plenty of things to explore in the city such as the zoo or botanical gardens.

If you are looking for an eastern-European city quite unknown to the big heaps of tourists, why not give Wroclaw a try? Or Poland in general, the perfect cheap and cultural getaway.

-Until next time-

Brit

Beautiful Ticino

A couple of weeks ago a visited my friend in Switzerland, who lives in this gorgeous place, to be exact she lives in Giubiasco which is a city in the canton of Ticino. First of all some background information about Switzerland. Switzerland exist out of four language groups, so kind of four main cultures. The biggest part is the Swiss-German part which takes up about 64% of the population, after that you have the French part, the Italian part which is 8% of the people and then last but not least Reto-Roman part which is also the smallest part of Switzerland. Ticino, the canton that I visited,  is the main Italian speaking canton of Switzerland. So here are some of my recommendations when visiting the area of Ticino.

What makes Ticino the perfect get-away is it existing out of two cultures, the Italian one with not wholly unimportant to mention its delicious food and the rich and unique Swiss culture, and of course it’s pleasant climate which I was happy to escape to in rainy mid-April Netherlands. During my stay in Ticino I stayed, as above mentioned, at a friend’s place in Giubiasco, which means that I unfortunately have no accommodation recommendations. However I would recommend flying to Milan instead of Lugano, which is the canton’s city airport, mainly because it’s way cheaper and it will give you some time to spend in the city of shopping. And from the airport it´s quite easy to take the train which will take you wherever you desire in Switzerland (and big bonus, going by train is beautiful, it will give you quite some time to appreciate the beautiful landscape).

While I stayed with my friend I visited a few of the main attractions in the area. The first day me and my friend hiked up to Ponte Tibetano, which is a suspension bridge connecting two of the mountains in Bellinzona ( the capital of Ticino). Definitely worth the long and heavy hike, would recommend going a little bit early in the morning to avoid the hottest part of the day unless of course going in the winter. In my opinion was the hike quite hard especially in the beginning but when you reach the bridge with its view, you will realize it’s worth the struggle. After the hike we went to downtown Bellizona to get this (I think) very Italian thing which is called an aperitivo, it’s where you go to a bar or restaurant (wherever they serve this magical concept), you order a drink ( Aperol Spritz is most common), while you’re sipping your alcoholic beverage they will serve several rounds of food, food that you can just take for free as long as you pay your drink. You can think of foods such as fried things, but also little bowls of pasta. Aperitivo is common to eat before dinner, but you can even eat it instead of dinner (like me and my friend did, and we were full for sure).

Another great thing to visit is the castles of Bellinzona, easy to reach with public transport like everything in the area. The first castle you will find in the city center of Bellizona, the second one is a little higher and the third one is the highest up which is best to reach with a car. I preferred the third castle due to the beautiful view it comes with, so if you’re short on time I would recommend skipping the first and second one to give you a little bit more time to reach the third castle. The third castle you can also reach by foot, but it takes quite some time and quite some effort. Another thing that’s fun to do when you’re visiting the castles is to go for lunch there, the third castle has a restaurant inside the castle that’s open sometimes. As for the first and second, what we did was ordering a pizza in the city center (of course you have to eat pizza when visiting a place with Italian culture) and then you take the pizza to the castle so you can have a little picnic in the castle fields.

Another recommendation would be to visit on the lakes, the one I visit was the one in Locarno which is called Lago Maggiore. The lake is a perfect place to hang out, although it’s quite touristy. Also the city of Locarno is fun to walk through, with little markets. I would recommend this lake because it’s beautiful but if you’re not that much into places booming with tourists I would certainly skip it.

So, if you’re ever in the area of either Italy or Switzerland, why not bring a visit to beautiful Ticino?

-Until next time-

Brit